A broker is an interface, typically in the form of a separate gateway box, needed for a modality or PACS to communicate with a Radiology or Hospital Information System for patient demographics, scheduling and report information. It translates the HL7 to the DICOM protocol.

The prevalent standard in the IS world is the HL7 standard. Some of the IS vendors today allow DICOM worklist servers to run on their machines, and are therefore providing the DICOM interface without having to use yet another hardware box. In this case, the broker is a software product.

The broker functionality can also be included in the PACS system. This case is typically referred to as a broker-less PACS.

A broker can be considered the electronic equivalent of a receptionist in a radiology department who takes in all the calls of the people that want to schedule an exam (the HL7 messages) and updates an appointment book (DICOM Modality Worklist). It is a gateway which has a functionality very similar to the interface engines that are common in the IS world.

Other functionalities of the broker include

  • Communicating with QA stations to provide patient information, which can then be used to correct the patient information of the images before they are sent to the PACS.
  • Communicating with a PACS image manager or archive with information about scheduled studies so they can be pre-fetched, if needed.
  • It serves sometimes as a temporary depository and/or interface for exchanging diagnostic reports.

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